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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Post-Minnesota thoughts

Many Steelers fans like to complain about the play calling of offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, but how would you like to be a Minnesota Vikings fan right now.

As I sat in the press box and watched Adrian Peterson used sparingly, I was dumbfounded.

How in the world can you not run the best running back on the planet three times from the two-inch line?

I realize the great Brett Favre is the king of the one-yard touchdown pass to the tight end, but Minnesota offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell should have some 'splainin to do.

I didn't go over to Minnesota's locker room, but I checked the post-game quotes from Vikings head coach Brad Childress and he was never asked about that decision. That, my friends, is inexcusable.

But, as Steelers Digest editor Bob Labriola so often likes to say, "The other team has coaches too."

It's Labriola's way of saying that coaches get too cute instead of just doing the obvious.

© The Steelers did some of that as well Sunday, doing things like taking tight end Heath Miller off the field to instead play Shaun McDonald.

Sorry, but the only way Miller comes off the field if I'm running things is if he's injured. He's become way too valuable an option to not be out there on every play.

© I did like the backfield pairing of Mewelde Moore and Rashard Mendenhall. They're both solid receivers and are matchup problems on the edge.

© Did Jared Allen play?

I know a lot of people questioned the Steelers' decision to put the transition and franchise tags on Max Starks the previous two seasons before giving him a new contract this season, but he's turning into a solid NFL left tackle.

© The Vikings played a lot of cover-2 in this game to take away the Steelers' deep passing game.

That opened up some running lanes for Mendenhall, particularly on the right side, where Willie Colon had a solid game.

But Mendenhall has got to learn that you don't leave your feet in the NFL with the ball in your hands unless you're diving into the end zone.

That was a silly fumble in the fourth quarter.

© 5-2 at the bye week is about as good as could be expected.

The bye comes at a good time, too.

That was a nasty ankle injury for linebacker Lawrence Timmons, who got clipped from behind by teammate James Farrior. The guess here is that he might need every day in the next two weeks to get that healthy again.

And the calf injury suffered by Travis Kirschke is one of those things you get when you're a 35-year-old trying to play full time.

© The three neutral zone infractions on Casey Hampton were for lining up with part of his helmet in the zone. Some officials call it, others don't.

But once you're whistled for it once, don't you think you might get the idea?

© The pass interference call on Miller that negated a touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes likely would not have been called had he not extended his arm on contact.


pit said...

Starks has surprised me a lot. Allen was kept in check all day

I was just laughing at mendenhall's fumble. Hope it never happens again though, the kid will learn

Patrick said...

Just a few quick things:

That tripping call was huge and abolustely terrible. The only way you can try and see why the official called that is the blocker kind of fell sideways, but still, what a bad and critical call. The pass interference on Miller wasn't much better, but those are called a lot more. Especially in the Red Zone, where a pick might spring a WR open for the short catch he needs.

Mendenhall is making his "rookie" mistakes now. Hopefully hes a quick learner.

Wallace though did not look like a rookie today. He finds spots in zones really well, which is not something most rookie WR's can do. It is impressive, and with his speed, dangerous.

You don't hear Willie Colon's name called much these days and thats a good thing. He's also turned into a good and consistent player and is a mauler on run plays.

Ben didn't have his best day today, but he played fine and didn't turn the ball over, though came close a few times.

The Vikings seemed to know the Steelers offensive gameplan really well. The one "screen" to Mendenhall was almost comical with him and the DE vying for position. The DE knew that play was coming.

2 KR's in two weeks? Something needs to change on kick coverage.

Jeff Reed could be 5 foot tall and 85 lbs and never expected to make a tackle (and he's obviously bigger than that). No one expects skill from him in tackling, but that was one of the biggest lack of effort plays I have seen from a Steeler in a long time. I can't even remember another. The only thing I can think of to justify that play is he thought Harvin was closer to the sideline and his attempt at a shove would knock him out of bounds. Ugly play.

Dale Lolley said...

The kicker's main job in that situation is to attempt to slow the return man enough so that pursuit can catch him. Reed tried to get enough on Harvin to knock him out of bounds. Didn't happen. He's hardly the guy at fault there, though.

If you watch the trip again, the tight end lifts his leg up to tangle with Harrison's. That's a trip. It's in the rules that you can't purposely do that.

As I said with Miller's flag, if he doesn't extend his arm there on contact, he's probably OK. But the officials see the push and they're going to call it.

Patrick said...

I'd have to see the trip again with that in mind. And I didn't hate the Miller call, those are called no matter where they happen on the field. It just wasn't an obvious intentional pick. But I agree with you about the arms extending.

Dale, don't you think the "identity" of this team is pretty much the same as last year? The D is not as good as last year, but the O is a little bit better. Either way, this team doesn't care about style points or how they get the wins. On paper, the numbers at the end completely favored the Vikings, but the D had the two TD's and thats all that matter. It seems to be how Tomlin feels about it too, pretty stats don't equal wins.

Its been a bit of a strange season so far, but like you said, 5-2 going into the bye is hard to argue with.

Denver on the road will be another nice test. (suprisingly)

Patrick said...

And I don't agree with you at all about Reed. The least he could have done is dive at his legs to slow him up or, even crazier, take him down. I think the effort was horrible, but I do agree a KR shouldn't come down to a kicker to make the tackle.

Anonymous said...

Why isn't the defense as good? Are you basing it on pure statistical ranking? Who won the game today? Get real.

Patrick said...

Oh I dunno, maybe it's the blown 4th quarters three or four times this season (did you see the SD, Det or Cincy games?), or the 400 yards put up today.

Get real to me? Get real to you dude, I don't think any Steelers fan would honestly say the D this year is as good as the D last year, which was incredible.

I know you would rather put words in my mouth and not try to understand what I say, but I'm not saying the D is bad (obviously it isn't, it won us the game today). I don't think it is as good as last year's D played.

Sorry that logic is so hard to follow. I'll spell it out better next time.

adamg said...

Dale, I was at the game and had my glasses on the line play most of the game. On the first Hampton offsides, he clearly jumped just before the play. I believe that was the case on the second penalty, too. Only the last call did the ref say he was lined up in the neutral zone. But, if Casey was lined up offside so was #94 Williams whenever he was over Hartwig.

Agree about Starks having a very good game. Allen did get up to block at least one pass, but he was quiet otherwise.

On SNF, Tony Dungy was asked about the penalties and he said the coaches knew some crews enforced were more strict and they always expected a lot of flags. The crew that worked the Pgh-Minn game was one of them.

Anonymous said...

Hampton jumped the snap on the neutral zone calls. Was not lined up with his helmet over the ball.

Christopher Scott said...

I was most impressed with Mendenhall (i know...the fumble), but check the line. 10 carries for 69 yards? It took AP 18 touches to get the same total on the ground. Rashard did it against a stounch run-stopper too! He's been doing this all season long...stop the fumbles and we have a solid superstar in the making folks....

Thomas said...

Here is a youtube video of the tripping call.

I agree with Dale. If he didn't swing his leg up the call wouldn't have happened. When the call was made that is the only reason I could think it was called.

marc said...

i didn't see the game. did timmons hurt the same ankle?

Anonymous said...

Okay, I gotta say it. Willie Colon had a good game and more importantly, I think he finally went through an entire game without a false start of hold. I've never been impressed with the guy but he was solid this week. Let's hope he keeps it up.

Anonymous said...

I don't care about style points or fantasy stats either, but this deep into the season you'd expect a good team to be hitting it's stride and cleaning up all the slop. This team is still playing very sloppy football, and as evidenced by last weeks game, plays down to competition. I don't want to say this team lacks focus, but I don't know what else to make of a veteran team with few lineup changes.

On the kick return, was that their normal coverage unit? Or did Tomlin pull/rest some of the d-side players who were part of Woodley's convoy. Fox and Mundy were the only ones I saw. Both looked sluggish, and Mundy (I think it was Mundy) never got off his block. Didn't see Ike or Gay or Eason out there. And Timmons was hurt. What is keeping Ratliff employed btw? His guaranteed salary? And the only time I notice Burnett is when Logan is running into him. Lewis dressed over both of them in the opener. Just how bad was he if he was benched after that while Ratliff and Burnett continue to get hats?

Robert said...

The defense isn't as good as last year but the defense is a much better unit than our sad offense. 13pts... yey? The Ravens put up 31pts with less talent.

marc said...

i did watch some of the highlights on someone, couldn't tell, was blatantly held on the kick return. i think that tripping call could have gone either way. welcome to the nfl mr. gay, please read a copy of "tackling 101" before the next game. the defense really does an excellent job of blocking on turnover returns, don't they?

dale, out of curiousity, how many teams (without naming names) illegally bark out false signals offensively or defensively?

adamg said...

On STs, remember Andre Frazier has been out the last couple of weeks and he's one their ST mainstays. Timmons was out of the game with the ankle injury by the time of the TD. I think Tomlin made a mistake cutting Madison, who was their top ST gunner last year, too.

Burnett made a couple of great sticks on the PR cover team.

And, watching the replay of the kick off return TD, there was a Steeler player who was blatantly held. Reed was quoted in the paper saying he was indecisive on which angle to take on Harvin, to try and push him out of bounds or back toward the middle of the field.

marc said...

i don't ever expect a kicker to make a play on a kick return. if they do, then good for them, but it's just not what they're trained for. besides, i'd hate to lose a kicker for the season 'cause he gets run over and hurt.

Anonymous said...

when did the kicker stop being responsible for tackling? It's a skill that any player can learn and returners are generally not very big guys. I don't expect a kicker to run down a WR type but if the guys runs right into you?? come on man.

Defense was great, not getting the continued negativity. Every game we've played this year has been winnable by the defensive effort. Actually, if we could get one more dependable CB, it could be just as good as last year.

The offense is still looking ragged. Where did the WRs and Heath go? who is putting together the game plan.

Totally agree about mendy and moore, except it shoulda happened in training camp not game 7.

You can argue about penalties all day long. Refs can call a penalty on every play if they want to. While it may have technically been a trip - even that is in ther eye of the beholder, calling it was assinine. Let the teams play the game.

Farmer Fran

Anonymous said...

Dale - any chance they let Burnett or K Lewis get some playing time? Favre was targeting Gay and his soft coverage all day long and he can't tackle

Vaflyer said...

This is what I take from this game, against much of the opinion you hear on the talking heads today, the team found a way to win. Mistakes were made on both sides of the ball by both teams, but we overcame ours and won.

marc said...

returners are not big guys, but they are running full speed in the open field by time they get to the kicker. expecting a kicker to make and open field tackle on a fast elusive runner is expecting quite a lot.

i'm not saying the kickers shouldn't try to tackle them, but i don't expect them to do a good job at it.

Anonymous said...

The Steelers offense put more points on the board then the Vikings offense did (13-10). I give a lot of credit to the Vikings D, they had a very good gameplan.

The Vikes had there speical teams TD which only came about because Favre fumbled and it was returned for a TD. The Steelers D is built to stop the run and limit the big play. They want to make an offense consistantly dink and dunk to downfield and when they do get in the redzone, the Steelers D usually tightens up because they can be more aggressive not having to worry about the big play. That exactly what happened in this game, the Vikings couldn't run the ball consistantly and resorted to Favre throwing 51 passes to move the Vikings inbetween the 20's but usually faultering in the redzone. The Steelers gave up too many 3rd down conversions though and didn't convert enough of their own.

Their should be no complaining from Vikings fans about the refs on that tripping call because the Steelers had a questionable one in that Heath Miller call. Both teams had touch downs taken away because of questionable calls, the Steelers responded by at least getting a FG and the Vikings responded by fumbling and giving up a TD.

Anonymous said...

Seems to me that Dale should have gone to the Vikings locker room. You were at the game right? Is it too much to ask for out of shape sportswriters to walk a few feet down the hall? Isnt that part of your job?

Viz-Burgh said...


With the Denver game next on the schedule, did anyone ask Ryan Clark if he is planning to play there (or even make the trip)? I know he had some differing advice on it in the past & it was a "we'll cross that bridge when we get to it" type of thing. Well, it's about time to cross that bridge.

superfan99 said...


I have to disagree with you regarding the tripping call. It absolutely was tripping. You can not block or tackle an opponent using anything but your hands, arms or upper body. Dugan flung himself at Harrison's legs, and hit Harrison initially with his butt. His legs followed through and took Harrison to the ground.

Anonymous said...

Talk about delusional fans, Steelers fans rule! The audacity to try to make-up some holding call on the Vikings kickoff TD? You stupid facks got your Heinz Field Officiating once again to slop out a win when a team DOMINATED you! BTW, check out the penalty totals Steeler idiots then go drink out of the toilet again.

Anonymous said...

Officials 27
Vikings 17

Anonymous said...

Do Steelers' fans really think they're the better team after playing the Vikings? Love to see THAT matchup in this years SB. LOL Steelers get humiliated if that happnes, but my guess is they don't make the playoffs and Polamalu gets traded.

kyle said...

why are teenage vikings fans even aware of this blog?

Anonymous said...

Vikings Super Bowl wins - 0
Steelers Super Bowl wins - 6

some teams are winners, some are losers and wear purple

rocket9 said...

Hee hee..I love fans who handle losing with such grace...

I hope we get to play the Vikes again because I know that Ben will have a much better game.

Favre will do his typical swoon in the late going. He's still a good to great player on a given day but having him throw 51 freaking times is not going to win you a playoff game. Or even a division.

The Steelers fumble a ball near the goalline, allow a KR TD, and their QB has a bad day (for him)..and they STILL win by 10 pts?

I can't get the smile off my face. This team is only getting better. MUCH better.

Anonymous said...

Ha! That's why they're called the STEALERS!

Vikings fans nailed it! Brown's fans have seen the "Heinz Field Officiating" and no chit! Happens All The Time.

Saw that game and the Vikings handed it to the Stealers all game long, dominating every category but the officials. No surprise there!

Only thing uglier than the Stealers unis are their women - barf bags over their heads please!

superfan99 said...

This isn't a trash talk blog fellas. Intelligent football talk only.

Take that trash to the message boards. Vikes played well. Brad Childress did a better job stopping AD than the Steelers defense did.

marc said...

have to say i've learned quite a bit about vikings fans today.

Anonymous said...

Ward 1 catch 3 yards...silence. No one is talking about that. If they took away the deep ball and opened things up underneath, why didn't miller and ward get more balls?

Anonymous said...

Hey "marc," I've learned a lot about the Stealers and their fans -they're delsional punks. Congratulations!

Broncos 42
Stealers 0

Anonymous said...

ok, who fed the trolls?

Anonymous said...

rocket9, oh yeah, you're "graceful" all right, graceful the Stealers got an "official" victory! Bet you can't Stealer in Denver!

Patrick said...

superfan, I'm not really too passionate about that call as you or Dale are. I just think the guy went for a legitimate block and he fell a certain way. Basically, I don't think the "intent" to trip was there.

But if you both see it a different way, then I'm thinking reasonable minds can differ and do in this case.

The one poster nailed it though. Steelers got a bad call and puts points on the board. Viks got a bad call and gave it away. In games like yesterday, those are the differences that result in win or lose.

Another thing I wanted to mention yesterday, what was up with our D not being set? It looked like Favre saw it was an opportunity to exploit and tried to as best he could. I wouldn't be suprised if other teams try it down the line.

Dale Lolley said...

Clark was asked about that. He's said he's not sure yet, but I think he's leaning toward not playing.
I don't blame him, he nearly died there the last time.

As for Ward being shut down, the Vikings were doubling and even tripling him at times. On both passes to Wallace at the end of the first half, they ran the same play, Ward ran a little hook underneath and drew the linebacker, safety and a corner up. That opened the deep middle up for Wallace.

As for mimicking the offense's signals, I see that called three or four times per season at the games I'm at. I recall Deshea Townsend being called for it last season. Different crews have different points of emphasis.

And I've now seen that tripping penalty play about 15 times and I still think it was a legit call, just like Miller's pass interference.

Anonymous said...

I've now seen Harvin's TD return about 4 times, and, boy, is there a hold by one of Vikes on a Steeler player so obvious a blind man could see it. I couldn't see who the Steeler was, but the guy blocking him literally had hold of his jersey and in a bear hug.

Anonymous said...

I think that Dugan (83)for the Vikings schould be suspended for three games and fined for his flagrant and maliclous hit on a defenseless back judge...What I saw on t.v. that there were no players around them when he ran that back judge down . Dale help me out here but wasn't that the player that was called for the tripping penalty and the back judge was the one who threw the flag?...Thanks for everything as always DaveW. in Las Vegas.

Dale Lolley said...

Yes Dugan was the guy who ran over the official. I doubt, however, that it was the back judge who flagged him.

Anonymous said...

"And I've now seen that tripping penalty play about 15 times and I still think it was a legit call, just like Miller's pass interference."

That's great, don't ever let your bias get in the way of reality. Makes you feel better about it too, doesn't it? Gee it's nice to be righteous. Make a stupid-looking smile and say ahhhhhh, my world is perfect! LOL

This "Dale" is your so-called Stealers "journalist?" Oh boy! LOL

Enjoy your imaginary season!

JKang said...

I give kudos to William Gay for still trying to grab AP's feet, even after taking that vicious shot. How many CBs would have cowered in the dirt after that?

Anonymous said...

I thought Patrick was the only troll on this site, hmmmm

Darren said...

HaHa... Vikings fans tears are delicious.... mmmm so tasty... please keep whining.

marc said...

i have watched harvin's return over and over again. i'm convinced dugan (#83) intentionally ran down that ref. i mean, he had a good 10 yards to avoid the ref and then blasted the guy and extended his arms. then, to top it off, went and celebrated the TD without even looking back to see if the ref was ok.

stay classy minnesota.

Viz-Burgh said...


Thanks for the answer on Ryan Clark. One follow-up -- I read today about him being uncertain whether he'll play or not, but in two different stories I read he was quoted as saying, "I can promise you I will be on the plane, either way, and we'll just figure it out from there."

If he's not going to play, why have him even go to Denver? Why even put him in the high altitude environment at all if he's not playing? Seems like an unnecessary risk, albeit a small one.

Patrick said...

with you being anonymous and only contributing direct shots at me with little to no logic, I think you fit the defintion of troll

Chris Dugan said...

You can't trust guys named Dugan.

adamg said...

I'm still waiting for all the NFLN and other talking heads to point out the holding MN did on the Harvin TD KR and stop crying about how Dugan's scissors kick on Harrison "took away at TD".

Bupp said...

Refs screw every team equally. You only see when it happens tou your team.

Good teams find ways to overcome the bad calls.

marc said...

are coaches, players, media, nfl brass just not interested in dugan running over that ref?

i'm just having a hard time watching that and then thinking the nfl is not concerned. they fine guys for cheap hits on other players every week, but nothing on that?

sherm said...

Will Ryan Clark face the play/ no play decision again. The way things look we could be setting up for a potential playoff game in Denver.

Anonymous said...

Just watched a replay of the game on the NFL network. Both teams left a lot of plays out on the field. Steelers O-line looked realy sharp in the first half. Overall they played a pretty good game.Damm shame that our pass rush couldn't get to Farve and put him to the turff a few more times than it did.The Vikings may of controlled the clock espically in the fourth quarter but the Steelers defence came up big when they had too.Also Jeff Reed faned on Harvin on that kick return.Dave W. in Las Vegas.

Dale Lolley said...

Clark will go to the game because he's smart and sees the field very well. He may notice some things in coverages. Plus, he's part of this team. Injured guys - especially starters - often go on trips.

Glad to see the Minnesota trolls have found the site. Appreciate the hits.

Anonymous said...

I am a big time Vikings fan and all I have to say to the Steelers is great game.

The game was exciting and went down to the end with both teams having chances to put it away. And the Steelers did just that.

There is no complaining or crying here. Good teams find a way to win the close games. The Pittsburg Steelers are the defending Superbowl Champions and they did exactly what they were supposed to do. They defended their home field and played 60 minutes of hard football.

Minnesota's offense had the ball most of the game and moved it well especially in the second half. They could have won by one or two touchdowns but they failed to make the big plays when they needed them to the credit of the Steelers defense.

Pittsburg's defense was on the field a long time and they still made the big plays when they had too. That's what it's all about.

For the Minnesota fans they should now realize that the Vikings can play at the same level as the best teams in the league. The season is long with many ups and downs.

Bottom line it was a great game.

Joey Porter’s Pit Bulls said...

That's a nice comment, Anonymous.

See you in the Super Bowl.